Time to slow the budget swing

Now that Tim Walz is sworn in today as Minnesota’s governor, and as the DFL-controlled House takes its seat, it is time to look at where Minnesota stands after eight years of Gov. Mark Dayton.

Under Gov. Tim Pawlenty, the state had followed a strict “no tax increase” philosophy in budgeting, which resulted in regular large budget deficits and measures we felt did not address the real needs of the state to balance the budget. The state cut Local Government Aid, which forced rises in property taxes, it withheld payments to school districts, essentially borrowing money from the schools, and other measures best described as “smoke and mirrors.”

Dayton, once he gained a DFL-controlled Legislature in 2013, enacted the plans he had espoused to raise taxes, especially on those with high incomes. The tax increase was big, but it allowed the state to pay back the school districts, restore some of the LGA payments, and build the state’s “rainy day” reserve fund.

There’s no doubt the state is on a more stable economic footing today, but it’s time for the incoming governor and Legislature to look at the state’s budget with an eye to controlling the swing away from “no tax increases” to “tax and spend.”

Minnesota currently has a $48 billion budget. We’d like to see Gov. Walz and the Legislature take aim at keeping it at or near that figure. Runaway taxation is as unwise as the previous “absolutely no” attitude toward raising revenue when needed. Fiscal responsibility means controlling costs, and raising only as much revenue as is needed for state programs